JP Pietersen replaces Lwazi Mvovo on the wing in the only change to the Springboks’ starting lineup for their quarter-final clash against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
As reported by SARugbymag.co.za, Pietersen has overcome a knee injury and will reclaim the No 14 jersey, with Bryan Habana shifting back onto the left wing as Lwazi Mvovo drops out of the squad.
Lood de Jager has retained his place in the second row after Victor Matfield failed to recover from a hamstring injury, while Frans Malherbe has been preferred to Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer welcomed Pietersen's return.
'JP and Bryan have been in superb form and are playing some of the best rugby of their lives. They have been scoring some wonderful tries, as has Lwazi, so it’s really great to know that there is good competition among the wings.
'It made sense to reunite Bryan and JP on the wing as it brings a lot of experience to our backline, which has been doing well despite the relative inexperience of Handré Pollard, Damian De Allende and Jesse Kriel.'
There are a few changes on the bench as Du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Ruan Pienaar and Pat Lambie all take up their places among the substitutes, boasting 252 caps between them.
'We’ve seen first-hand how important it is to have experienced players on the field at the end of a match and to have this kind of experience available on the bench in a knockout match is great,' Meyer said. 'Saturday’s match will be huge and we are expecting an arm wrestle right until the end.
We’re playing against a well-balanced side that always likes to mix things up when it comes to physicality. They have a good set piece and some strong ball carriers up front and in the back – it’s what you expect to face at this stage of the competition and we’re very excited about the challenge.'
Meyer confirmed that Matfield had again felt some discomfort in his hamstring at training on Tuesday.
'We were planning to use Victor from the bench to add even more experience to our replacements, but we’re also not prepared to risk him if he’s not ready. Luckily in Pieter-Steph du Toit we have another young player who has been performing very well and will slot in with ease.'
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (c), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images